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Finding Hitchcock in Bodega Bay

bodega bay

I think we’re in real trouble. I don’t know how this started or why, but I know it’s here and we’d be crazy to ignore it… The bird war, the bird attack, plague – call it what you like. They’re amassing out there someplace and they’ll be back. You can count on it… Unless we do something right now, unless we get Bodega Bay on the move, they… Mrs. Bundy said something about Santa Cruz, about seagulls getting lost in a fog and then flying in towards the lights… Make our own fog… we can use smoke pots the way the Army uses ’em.

– The Birds

bodega bay

When planning a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway with my mom and her friend, there was one stop we added that wasn’t really “on the way.” As fans of both Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock, there was no way we were missing Bodega Bay, the setting and filming location for the 1962 film The Birds. The film tells of a woman who visits a man she recently met but is stuck in his town after all the birds start to terrorize local residents. It’s an hour and a half drive north of San Francisco and the cute oceanfront town’s businesses mostly cater to film fans like us.

bodega baybodega bay

Bodega Bay was busy even during the windy February afternoon, so I could only imagine what summer looked like. We didn’t eat there but noticed The Birds Cafe, a themed restaurant overlooking the water. The main street was lined with surf shops, buoy covered restaurants, taffy stores, and souvenir shops. There was an event going on at the Bodega Bay Grange, the community center.

bodega bay

bodega baybodega bay

Beyond the main street, we stopped by The Children’s Bell Tower, a memorial to a local child who was killed tragically by a stray bullet while on vacation with his family in Italy. His parents decided to donate his organs in Italy, saving the lives of many children. People have sent bells from around the world to honor the life of Nicholas Green. A campground next door connects to the Coastal Prairie Trail, a 3-mile bike and pedestrian path with bird watching. Between Bodega Bay and Bodega, stop by The Tides (Bodega Bay), a restaurant used as the diner in The Birds. It has a gift shop and multiple dining options.

bodega bay

bodega baybodega bay

The unincorporated town of Bodega is also important for fans as it has locations used in the film. The Potter Schoolhouse, pictured second from top, was used as the school in the film. Today, it’s a landmark to pose in front of, but it’s a private residence. Built in 1873, it closed in 1961 and was used in The Birds the following year. After production, it sat vacant until a family bought it in 1966, who have retained it ever since. Saint Teresa of Avila Church was used in both The Birds and in a notable series by photographer Ansel Adams titled “Church and Road” in 1953. Bodega Country Store has a small deli and large collection of movie memorabilia. Casino Bar & Grill may look like a dive bar from the outside, but it’s so much more. Equal parts karaoke bar and restaurant, the menu is constantly changing and delicious, which is why the movie crew ate here frequently. Just be sure to bring cash.

*Note: I’ve recently learned that Bodega Country Store has closed its doors. Sad news!

bodega bay

bodega baybodega bay

These cute California towns are a welcome detour for road trippers making their way down the coast. Be sure to re-watch the film before you go!

If You Go

The easiest way to get to Bodega Bay is by renting a car in San Francisco and making the drive down Highway 101 on your own. If you’re looking for a day trip or weekend getaway without wheels, take bus 72 from the city’s financial district to Santa Rosa, where you’ll transfer to bus 95 to the coastal town.

If you want to stay overnight in the Bodegas, you can camp or park your RV at Bodega Dunes CampgroundSonoma Coast Villa and Spa is the only option in Bodega but has luxurious accommodations and a pool. The Inn at the Tides is perhaps the best well known in Bodega Bay, just across the street from The Tides Restaurant. There are ten or so other options as well, depending on your budget and needs.

Because of its location, most of the restaurants serve seafood. Fishetarian and Terrapin Creek both offer fresh seafood dishes in casual and upscale settings. The Dog House serves hot dogs and burgers, perfect for quick bites and families. The Tides and The Birds Cafe, mentioned earlier, are also options.

Beyond the movie memorabilia, these towns and the surrounding Sonoma Coast has other things to do. Bodega Head is a stunning overlook also featured in films. Sonoma Coast Vineyards has a tasting room where you can sample varieties from the area. Artisans’ Co-op showcases the work of local artists. Check out the Bodega Bay Community Farmer’s Market during weekends through the summer. During some parts of the year, you can spot whales off the coast.

Further Reading

If you’re planning your own California Road Trip, follow my inspiration board on Pinterest.

Mentioned in this post
  1. The Birds Cafe
    Restaurant in Sonoma County California

    1407 CA-1
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 875-2900
    http://www.thebirdscafe.com/
  2. The Children's Bell Tower
    Attraction in Sonoma County California

    2255 CA-1
    Sonoma County California
    (818) 952-2095
    http://www.nicholasgreen.org/bell_memorial.html
  3. The Tides (Bodega Bay)
    Attraction in Sonoma County California

    Sonoma County California
  4. Saint Teresa of Avila Church
    Attraction in Sonoma County California

    17242 Bodega Hwy
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 874-3812
    http://www.sonomacoastweddings.com/about.html
  5. Bodega Country Store
    Attraction in Sonoma County California

    17190 Bodega Hwy
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 377-4056
  6. Casino Bar & Grill
    Restaurant in Sonoma County California

    17000 Bodega Hwy
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 876-3185
  7. Bodega Dunes Campground
    Hotel in Bodega Bay California

    3095 CA-1
    Bodega Bay California
    (707) 875-3483
    http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=451
  8. The Inn at the Tides
    Hotel in Sonoma County California

    800 Bay Hwy
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 875-2751
    http://www.innatthetides.com/
  9. Fishetarian
    Restaurant in Sonoma County California

    599 CA-1
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 875-9092
    http://www.fishetarianfishmarket.com/
  10. Terrapin Creek
    Restaurant in Sonoma County California

    1580 Eastshore Rd
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 875-2700
    http://www.terrapincreekcafe.com/
  11. Bodega Head
    Attraction in Sonoma County California

    Sonoma County California
  12. Sonoma Coast Vineyards
    Restaurant in Sonoma County California

    555 CA-1
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 921-2860
    http://www.sonomacoastvineyards.com/
  13. Artisans' Co-op
    Attraction in Sonoma County California

    17175 Bodega Hwy
    Sonoma County California
    (707) 876-9830
    http://artisansco-op.com/

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2 Responses to Finding Hitchcock in Bodega Bay

  1. Jenna April 22, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    I love Bodega Bay, too, and the walk along the headlands is one of my favorite coastal hikes. Your photos express the town’s unique atmosphere. Thanks for including my blog post as a resource!
    Jenna recently posted..For Your WeekendMy Profile

  2. KareninCalabria April 22, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

    Thanks for mentioning Nicholas Green. The tragedy occurred in Calabria, the region in the toe of the boot. Organ donation wasn’t very common in Italy before Nicholas’ parents decided to donate his organs and as a result of their gesture, organ donation there has quadrupled. Many schools and parks in Italy have been named after him and the father wrote a very good book documenting the story called “The Gift that Heals.”
    KareninCalabria recently posted..Easter in Calabria, The Processions of BadolatoMy Profile

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